A Ratatouille With Rave Reviews
Ever since that movie about that little rat named Remy who was famous for his ratatouille, I’ve been wanting to make this classic French dish myself (Heck, I even made it a foodie vocab word). I’ve seen countless recipes for this stew of eggplants, zucchini and tomatoes but they always seemed complicated, overwhelming and just plain too hard to embark upon in the kitchen. That is…until yesterday when I found one recipe that inspired me to conquer my fears and finally make the ratatouille I’ve been dreaming about. The only problem is now that I’ve made this genius French creation, I don’t think I’m going to stop dreaming about it.
The best part about this dish was that everyone that tried it, loved it. Considering three of the four of us are not accustomed to entirely vegetarian meals, the fact that this received “oohs” and “aahs” from the whole crowd was really quite an accomplishment. Thankfully, this dish will be making more appearances in our kitchen in the future.
Ratatouille is classically made from eggplant (aubergines), zucchini (courgettes), tomatoes and peppers (among other delicious components). I omitted bell peppers in mine and added mushrooms just for personal preference. One of the tricks to making a good ratatouille is maintaining the texture and integrity of each vegetable as you combine them into one stew. The recipe that inspired me did exactly that. I made some tweaks to the ingredients and the final outcome and came up with my own. Here’s how I made it:
The first step is to cut up your veggies: we cut up our eggplant into slices and then quarters, made slices out of the zucchini, chopped up some onions and garlic.
I bought these herbs when I visited Pike Place Market in Seattle. My eyes perked up when I saw Herbs de Provence (a spice mixture of savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender flowers) – I knew that I wanted to make ratatouille some time and these herbs would make it a true ratatouille. It’s pretty pathetic that it took me this long but unopened, these herbs were still fragrant and in very good condition. And frankly, they were the secret to this dish.
Once all my vegetables were cut up and ready to go, I added them to a large bowl and coated them in olive oil and the Herbs de Provence mixture. That way the flavor would really infuse into the vegetables while they roasted and get into the heart of the overall dish. Let’s just say, my plan worked.
So after tossing the veggies lightly in the bowl, I transferred them to a cookie sheet to spread out in a thin layer. I then roasted these beauties in a 400-degree oven for 45 minutes…
…until they looked like this. Sometimes I impress myself.
The next step is to add everything to the casserole dish. Tip: Try this bake and serve casserole dish so you can bring this beautiful ratatouille right to the table!
First, use a spatula to scoop up the roasted veggies and dump them into your dish. Next, chop your whole tomatoes into large chunks and add them to the casserole. Add about 1/4 C. of the tomato liquid from the can but not all of it. Next, you can add the other can of diced tomatoes (strain it first!) and finally, mushrooms (also strained). Next, cover the whole thing with foil and put that baby back into the oven for about 20 minutes.
If you want, you can also add eggs and cheese to your dish. Take the casserole out after your 20 minutes and then with a spoon, make 4 divets to make room for your eggs. Pour an egg into each hole. Top the whole thing with shredded mozzarella cheese and then bake for another 8-10 minutes.
*Make sure to check your eggs first by pouring them into a glass first and looking for blood spots or any abnormalities.
I wound up broiling mine at the end and burning my cheese and hard boiling my eggs (note: not what you’re supposed to do!) but it still came out great in the end.
I placed a piece of bread at the bottom of each bowl and topped it with a generous helping of this yummy stuff (make sure to include an egg with each serving).
A classic French dish made from eggplants, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes, the secret to this delicious French stew is in the herbs! Serve as a main course, side dish or even a cold appetizer the next day! Roasting the vegetables beforehand helps to preserve their texture in the finished dish.
* 1 lg. eggplant, washed, cut into slices and quartered
* 1 lg. onion, chopped
* 2 sm. zucchinis, cut into slices
* 2 sm. red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 3-4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
* 2 Tbs. Herbs de Provence**
* 1/4 tsp. salt
* freshly ground pepper
* 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes with juice
* 1 can diced tomatoes
* 1 can sliced mushrooms
* 2 Tbs. chopped parsley (optional)
* 1 Tbs. chopped basil (optional)
* 4 large eggs
* 1/2 – 1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut up eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers and garlic according to directions above and place in a large bowl. Coat with olive oil, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Toss together with your hands and make sure all vegetables are coated. Transfer to a foil-lined cookie sheet (may need two) and lay out flat in a single layer. Roast/bake for 45 minutes.
Open cans of tomatoes and drain the liquid from both cans, reserving about 1/4 C. liquid. Chop up whole tomatoes into large chunks. Remove roasted vegetables from oven when done and transfer to 13×9-inch casserole dish. Add tomatoes, tomato liquid and mushrooms. Add chopped parsley and basil. Mix with your hands making sure each ingredient is evenly distributed.
Cover with aluminum foil and return to 400-degree oven. Bake for 20 minutes (or 30 minutes if you decide to skip the next step).
Remove foil, and with a spoon, make room for eggs. Crack eggs individually into a glass to check them and then pour each egg into a slot in the casserole. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Return to oven and bake for 8-10 more minutes.
Serve atop a piece of bread, making sure each person gets an egg.
**Herbs de Provence “typically contains savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender flowers and other herbs. (Some cooks maintain that lavender is an essential ingredient of true herbes de provence.) The proportions vary by manufacturer. Thyme usually dominates the taste produced by the herb mixture.”
This recipe is loosely based off of a recipe for Roasted Ratatouille with Eggs and Cheese from EatingWell.com.
It’s so good – I even had the small amount of leftovers for lunch the next day! Try out this recipe today or browse through some other ratatouille recipes below.